By Lynne Snierson
The 2014 meet at Suffolk Downs will be extended through Sept. 29 but the number of live racing days will decrease, according to a new agreement reached between track management and the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.
With only 575 horses currently stabled on the grounds, the track has been unable to satisfy the existing state requirement that it run 100 days in order to be able to simulcast. That law expires in July.
Under terms of the deal between the horsemen and track management, both parties agree to mutually support a proposed bill that would extend the Massachusetts racing and simulcasting laws but require only a minimum of 60 days of live racing for this year and in 2015.
The current meet, which opened May 3, was originally scheduled to end Sept. 1 and the calendar included 100 days of live racing as granted by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. Suffolk Downs chief operating officer Chip Tuttle said the track will do its best to host live racing three days a week, for a total of 65 days, through Sept. 29.
"We are happy that we could work with the horsemen to extend the meet and look forward to working with the HBPA and the gaming commission on a schedule that complies with applicable statutes and recognizes the unique challenges," Tuttle said.
The ownership of Suffolk Downs has been candid that unless it wins the competitive bidding process for the sole Greater Boston area destination casino resort license, it will not be able to host live racing after this season. But if the plan of development partner and gaming titan Mohegan Sun to build a $1.3 billion project on a portion of the grounds of the 79-year-old track is successful, Suffolk Downs has pledged to continue to race for at least the next 15 years.
Mohegan Sun/Suffolk Downs is competing for the license with Wynn Resorts, which proposed a $1.6 billion casino in Everett, Mass. and would be located just two miles from the stable area.